New York City Gay Men’s Chorus: Broadway Off-Kilter

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New York City Gay Men’s Chorus

Broadway Off-Kilter

Chelsea Table + Stage, NYC, February 29, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Designed in part as a fundraiser for the upcoming concert by New York City Gay Men’s Chorus at the end of April at the Skyball Center for the Performing Arts, in Broadway Off-Kilter the long-standing group certainly made a great impression. Eleven soloists within the organization had a chance to shine on each of their songs, all written for some of Broadway’s finest divas. Their singing was especially fine, and many of these performers exhibited a fine command of interpreting lyrics, dramatic or comic.

The ensemble kicked off the evening with a group version of “My Body” (Young the Giant), in which they blended their voices and clearly accomplished their most important task of all—listening to each other. Then Frank Stancall, who wore many hats that evening as director, master of ceremonies, and performer, briefly (thankfully) welcomed the full house before he made a meal of the raunchy “Everybody’s Girl” (Kander & Ebb), turning it into the showstopper it can be. For a change of pace (the evening was well programmed throughout), Nick Prior brought both his warm tenor and his impressive acting skills to “Meadowlark” (Stephen Schwartz). Andy McKeon brought some charming character interpretation to his version of “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” (Irving Berlin) and gained laughs with his specificity.

In a major shift in mood, Jeremy Vandenhout displayed barely controlled fury as he carefully built the number “Get Out and Stay Out” (Dolly Parton) from Nine to Five. For “Life of the Party” (from Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party), Matt Koplik prowled the stage (in what little space he had) most intimidatingly, like a caged lion stalking his prey. Noland King brought a big, strong voice to Jason Robert Brown’s “I’m Not Afraid of Anything,” which we could easily believe. Jay Lindsey brought abundant charm and avoided being precious as he recalled the allure of “Taylor, the Latte Boy” (Marcie Heisler/Gina Goldrich).

“I’m Changing” (Henry Krieger/Tom Eyen) gave the glamorous Richard Spivey a chance to unleash his buttery voice as he established his diva rights. Then unique drag artist Temple Grandé, a member of the Chorus, gave the pitch for cash donations as he delivered the appropriate “Big Spender” (Cy Coleman/Dorothy Fields). Patrick Butler, with his shimmering tenor, built the drama of “I Dreamed a Dream” (Claude-Michel Schönberg/Herbert Kretzmer/Alain Boublil/Jean-Marc Natel) to an exciting and heartbreaking climax. Adam Sanford showed equal talent in delivering a song, but he had a much more joyous result in “Gimme Giimme” (Dick Scanlan/Jeanine Tesori); made clear the exact moment when he made the decision to claim romance over finance. The entire company returned to the stage for a melting “I Got Lost in His Arms” (Berlin). Mention should certainly be made of music director/pianist Kent Dennis who provided fine support throughout this highly entertaining show.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."